#3 Do you wish you looked like us?


Me: Do people say weird or stupid things because you’re Chinese?

Him: People say my name is stupid and they don’t like it.

Him: Trevor doesn’t call me my right name.

Me: Do you know why that is?

Him: He says Eli because he doesn’t think Lei is my real name.

Lei is my younger brother. We met in slightly odd circumstances, I was nine, he was two, we were in a room full of people we didn’t know…

Me: Do you wish you looked like us sometimes?

Him: Yeah.

Me: Why?

Him: I don’t think I know.


Me: Now being the mom to a kid of color, do you see racism more often?

Mom: I suppose so, but only because I’m more sensitive and aware to it.

Me: Why?

Mom: I think I’m more aware of the fact that it usually isn’t going to happen in obvious ways but more in the way of microaggressions. Especially with asian americans, they’re often held as the model minority. The stereotypes are that they’re smart and law abiding and those can be equally as harmful as the opposite, simply because they’re not accurate.

Huh. I suppose I’ve never thought of that before. I thought I was more aware of racism like that than I actually am.

Mom: Vermont is 93.5% white and most people consider themselves the opposite of racist. People say ‘we don’t have racism here’ meaning racism by their definition.

Me: Wow.

Mom: The only less white state is Maine.


Me: So there isn’t as much violent racism but the amount of micro aggressions/unconscious bias is absurd.

Mom: Basically yeah.

Me: And people don’t realize their doing it?

Mom: That’s what unconscious means.

Me: No need to be salty.


I’m coming to realize that people are incredibly oblivious. They don’t see things until you shove them in their faces. I suppose that’s what I intend to do with this project. SHOW PEOPLE. I just want people to become aware of how their words hurt and degrade. We won’t get anywhere without education…







Nathan DeGroot

4 Responses to “#3 Do you wish you looked like us?

  • Wow. This was great! I really loved the way you wrote this, it grabbed me right away. I think this is an excellent topic that everyone needs to know more about. My name is Sidney by the way, I’m your writing partner.

  • Dear Nathan,

    I am seeing some common threads between your blog posts thus far: You are a creative and engaging writer, you use humor to approach serious topics, and you are passionate about life.

    I found this blog style to be absolutely engaging. The way that you interspersed dialogue with your own narration was effective and unique.

    Grace, whose blog I just read, also wrote about race, so clearly it’s an issue that’s on the minds of students. I think that today, as much (if not more) than ever, racism is a critical and timely issue that deserves and needs attention, discussion and thought. It’s such a big topic and there are so many angles one can take. What I appreciate here is that you took this topic and narrowed it right down to your kitchen table (or, that’s where I imagined you were, but I really have no idea). My point is, you narrowed it down to about as local as you can get: your family and their thoughts and insights. The line of your blog that made me think the most was this: “The stereotypes are that they’re smart and law abiding and those can be equally as harmful as the opposite, simply because they’re not accurate.” This highlights the fact that people don’t like to be judged, underestimated, overestimated, pigeon-holed, etc. regardless of what the assumption is and whether it carries a “positive” or “negative” connotation.

    I so look forward to reading more. It’s a pleasure.


    Now that

  • Nathan, your post is a fantastic example of exactly the kind of mind-stretching that this week’s exercise of interviewing was meant to ignite. The dialogue genre you’ve used here spotlights your moments of revelation really wonderfully, and handles these thorny issues in an approachable, unintimidating way. You have a gift for rhetoric that will be immensely useful as you craft persuasive messages, especially concerning charged topics where a writer/videographer can run the risk of alienating an audience. Your dialogue is an exemplar of how setting yourself up as the person to be enlightened is sometimes much more effective than pointing an accusatory finger.

    Did speaking with your brother and mother raise your own awareness about biases you might hold without realizing it?

    Until next week,

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